I have just recently reviewed the Mvix 780HD, a unit which sits under the 'Media Player' category, but actually offers quite a few more features than just playing video and audio.
The three differences this unit offers over others I have seen and reviewed are:
1) NDAS support – This is a technology which allows the Mvix unit to be seen on your computer, over your LAN, as a shared drive, much like a SAN or NAS unit. However NDAS is a proprietary technology, patented by a company called Ximeta. I tested this and is works great. You do have to install a special piece of software on each PC that needs to access the unit, and you need registration keys (which are supplied by Mvix, and they even pay the license fees!), and then the unit needs to have its NDAS mode activated. This gives great flexibility in that you can have the Mvix unit connected to your TV, and copy files from your PC to it without having to use USB or move it around. So as you download stuff, you can make it available to watch/listen to. The only downside is the speed of copying files. This is not a SAN unit, but it is not trying to be, so the copies are a bit slow, but I never had problems, the copies all worked 100% and I experienced no disconnection or other problems.
2) HD Support – The 780HD officially supports various HD encoded files, but during testing I did find that unless the file was encoded using one of the supported codecs, playback was very hit and miss. This is not Mvix’s problem, it is purely because there are just so many difference codes, even in the HD world. In order to ensure that you can watch your HD media, the unit includes an HDMI connection.
3) Multiple source options – as a base unit, i.e. when you buy it, the 780HD does not include any internal drive. However this does not mean the unit is unusable, far from it. Out of the box the unit can stream content from any share on your network as well as play Internet radio, and in this sense can operate this way forever. However unlike true ‘streamers’ the 780HD also offers the ability to accept an internal hard drive. Add in a USB port and the unit can now act as an external hard drive. Hook it up to your PC and you can copy all your media files to the local drive, removing the need for a network connection. This option is great if you don’t have a wired LAN and you want to play back DVD rips or HD files, both of which don’t work well over the wireless connection. Finally, the 780HD also has a USB Host port which means you can hookup an external UDB device (I tried my 750GB USB hard drive and it worked 100%). During use the ability to chose the source (internal HD, external HD, LAN) depends on which is connected, and it well integrated into the menu system
Overall this is a very good unit. The user interface was quite good (although I have never struck a unit that has a ‘fabulous’ interface apart from the Squeezebox, but that’s audio only, I think when a unit deals with so many different sources and types of media, such as local files, remote files, video files, music files, Internet radio etc, there is no easy way to present this), and the remote was OK, functional but nothing compared to what a Harmony One can do!
I like the fact you can also use the unit as an external USB drive, but with the NDAS support I personally wouldn’t use that too much, unless I had to copy files from a friend etc.
Playback of files is very dependant upon the file type. Audio files presented no problems, as you would expect, as they are the easiest to process.
Internet radio worked well, but as expected the quality of audio was dependant upon the source stations encoding. Some stations caused problems, but this is consistent with other units I have reviewed, and is a reflection of stations going offline as quickly as new ones come online.
Video is much harder to deal with. There are so many formats and so many slight differences and ways of interpreting them that no unit can be 100%. The 780HD does well in this area, and as long as you follow the published specs for file formats, you shouldn’t have any problems. Of course if you download files there is no guarantee that you will get clean playback! When I testing MP4 files they worked great over both wireless and wired connections, as well as from the internal HD, as expected. Moving up to DVD rips (straight to disk using DVD Decrypter, no additional compression), the wired connection and internal HD worked fine, but the wireless connection stuttered and couldn’t really handle it. For the few HD files I tried, the internal HD was the only way to get guaranteed playback.
With its extensive source options and its ability to act as both a streaming unit and an external HD, the 780HD is great value for money.
My official review of this unit appeared in this months (April) edition of Tone magazine, make sure to give it a read!
Other related posts:
Tone Review Blogging
Comment by Steve, on 1-Jun-2008 21:14
Unit's not ready to be released. See the massive complaints on mvixcommunity.com. Spent 8 hours trying to get HDD, software, video files, and networking to work.. taking it back tomorrow. Here's the post I sent to mvix
Well unless someone can help me with problems with every aspect of the MX-780HD, this is going back to MicroCenter the day after tomorrow. 8 hours today was far more than I have to spare working on this.
(Note: I have a degree in Computer Science from ucb, just to let you know I know my way around a computer)
1) Western Digital 1 terabyte drive unrecognized - computer recognizes and writes to it through USB, and SATA drive light is on on the unit, but when connected to a TV, MVix says there is no HDD. I tried reformatting a smaller partition (10GB), still nothing. Searched everywhere online to see if there's a compatibility issue, or if the MVix doesn't support 1 terabyte; no information.
2) Wireless networking fails with my correct password etc.
3) hdmi output works, component has problems (admit I did not spend much time figuring out the problem there though).
4) MOST IMPORTANTLY - plays audio on some DivX files, and not others - files with the same encoding. I know the encoding is identical in working/nonworking because I batch encoded them. These are DivX 5.0 with mp3 audio. After hours of hassle and knowledgebase searches, I found VirtualDubMod, and was able to reprocess the files (fairly quickly) and then they played. But then I could not fast forward or rewind (they did previously, without audio).
5) Aspect ratio is not adjustable. I have some files transferred from HD Tivo, that are 1280x1088, which is not 16x9, but is meant to be displayed at 16x9. Not possible through MVix, it only displays it as if the pixels were square (is possible with computer programs, e.g. Beyond TV)
6) Highly surprising - many expected features missing. For instance, exiting a video then coming back to it later, the MVix plays it from beginning, does not remember your place. I also expected a play bar at the bottom, ala TiVo. These missing features aren't a deal breaker, but any of 1 through 5 are.
I upgraded the firmware to 2.0.3, not sure if there's anything else that can help get it to work.
Comment by Karl Cetkowski, on 9-Nov-2008 18:07
Well, I got it going, but the fast forward and reverse does not work